A/N: I wanted to correct some assumptions that many of you made (probably because I wasn’t clear enough about what was going on in the last chapter).
First, please don’t think that the Sookie in this story is going to be dumb, stupid, irrational, etc. This is the Sookie we met in Seasons 1-3. She’s made some mistakes and been too trusting of Bill, but she’s new to relationships, and she’s had NO idea about the effects of the blood before. This is also a Sookie who has been through a lot in a very short time. But she is going to stand firm in her decision to sever the blood tie with Bill.
The ONLY reason that she behaved as she did in the last chapter was because of the nature of the DREAM that Bill sent to her. He sent a “new” kind of dream that I’m making up for this story; it’s called a “woven dream.” In this dream, Bill literally took control of Sookie. She DID try to fight him by bringing Eric into her dream (yeah—SHE did that! Remember, Eric said that he wouldn’t compel her to dream of him that day). But—frankly—once Sookie fell asleep, it was only a matter of time before she was under Bill’s power. His blood is hitting her nerves, hormones, etc. with continuous terror. Can you imagine begin in a nightmare and then waking up only to still be trapped in it? Well—that is what Sookie is experiencing. She CANNOT stop herself from the impulse to go to Bill. The continuous fear inside of her is compelling her, and if she resists, she will die. Yes—die. She can’t stop to think rationally. She can’t stop to think at all! She is a ball of fear. That is why Russell was so surprised that Bill would send such a dream at the end of Ch. 12. This dream could literally drive Sookie to her death or to suicide or to insanity.
So, please, stop assuming the worst of her. I know you are “gun-shy” because she’s made such mistakes in other stories. And I know that it is my fault as a writer when so many of you interpreted the last chapter as Sookie going back to her “old” habits and taking back Bill. But this Sookie is not doing that. Bill has taken away her control. And Sookie is powerless.
The chapter upcoming will give you more from Eric’s POV. Please let his reaction to what is going on help you to determine how to interpret Sookie’s actions during this episode. Trust me when I tell you that what Bill’s doing here is akin to rape because he’s taken away her control against her will. Sookie’s Bill’s victim, not his accomplice.
All of this will be made clear in the next few chapters, but so many of you seemed ready to jump off the boat and stop reading. And I would hate for that to happen because you had incomplete information. Let the story progress a little, and you will see what I mean. I know that it’s difficult not to make quick assumptions about Sookie. After all, the Sookie character has done a lot of rash things in other incarnations of the story (including the source materials). But the Sookie in this story is not that Sookie. If you know my writing at all, you know that I believe in a strong Sookie—flawed and damaged by years of mental turmoil—but strong nonetheless.
Now that that is out of the way, I have another quick note. You will “hear” the unique accent of Octavia Fant in this chapter. I don’t often “write in an accent,” but in my head, that’s how she talks. Here’s a key:
Most of the time, she says “th” as if it were “d.” For example, “the,” becomes “dee.” “That” becomes “dat.”
Sometimes she says “th” like a “t.” For instance, she says “ting,” instead of “thing.”
I think you’ll catch on quick.
Okay—now on with the Chapter 14.
“A true knight is fuller of bravery in the midst, than in the beginning of danger.”—Sir Philip Sidney
Eric was an old vampire, and—as such—he had the ability to wake up before the sun set, especially if he sensed danger. But it wasn’t danger that woke him—at least not in a traditional sense. It was the feeling that Sookie Stackhouse was once again near death!
Her suffering pulled him harshly from his rest. He quickly gauged that it was a little more than one hour before sundown, and Sookie’s heart was beating erratically—so much so that he feared she was close to cardiac arrest.
Eric quickly did an assessment of his location. As expected, he was still in his resting place within his car; however, the car was moving. Sookie should have made it to Slidell only a few hours after sunrise. But the car was traveling north at a high rate of speed.
Something was very wrong.
The Viking turned his attention back to the woman driving the car. He closed his eyes and asked his blood to fully evaluate her condition. Sookie was petrified—literally shaking with fear—and her hormone levels were incredibly high. Her adrenaline was off the charts. Her heart rate was like that of someone who had just run a marathon. Her blood pressure was dangerously high. She was literally on the jagged edge of insanity.
And she smelled of blood—though not much. She’d been physically wounded.
If his blood had not been inside of her, Eric’s first impulse would have been to suspect that Sookie had made the irrational decision to run back to Bill Compton. However, he did know better. The Sookie he was sensing was not really “Sookie” at all—not by a longshot! She was a ball of fear—the kind of terror that could paralyze even the bravest of men. But she had not been paralyzed by it. Instead, her fear was compelling her into action.
“Bill?” Eric muttered to himself, half in anger and half in question. Only one thing that Eric knew about could have caused Sookie’s intense and life-threatening reaction: a woven dream. Eric shook his head in disbelief. He was a thousand years old, yet he was unable to weave dreams. In fact, he had never heard of a vampire younger than 1,300 or so developing the ability. Hell—he’d not even known that woven dreams existed until a few hundred years before!
But it was obvious to him that Sookie was ensnared in a woven dream—a dream which had started while she slept and now continuing as a kind of waking nightmare. She was powerless to fight against it. She was just as trapped in it as he was in his enclosure.
It was as if she were sleepwalking; her eyes were open and she seemed conscious, yet her unconscious mind was controlling her every movement. And Bill’s blood was in control of that.
“Fuck!” he yelled as he pounded the top of his enclosure with his fist. “I was the one who told her to sleep!” he chastised himself.
Eric quickly put aside his shock and his anger. The fact was clear: Bill was capable of producing woven dreams. Either that, or an ancient vampire like Russell had somehow gotten blood into Sookie after dawn, but Eric could smell no evidence of that having occurred, nor could his blood sense the presence of any new blood inside of her.
What it could sense was Bill’s blood, extremely active and currently surrounding the centers where fear was produced in Sookie’s body.
The Viking didn’t know a lot about dream-weaving; what he did know was from what Godric had told him once Eric reached what ancient vampires called the “age of knowledge,” which occurred when a vampire turned 800 years un-dead. Generally speaking, the most well-guarded secrets about vampire-kind were kept from younglings, who might misuse the information or create messes by trying to develop abilities they couldn’t yet control. The knowledge of woven dreams had been one of those secrets that Eric had learned about from Godric just a couple hundred years before.
Eric knew that only two things could “wake” up a human once a woven dream was controlling him or her.
The first was the vampire who had sent the dream. The vampire—upon his own waking—would immediately feel it if his human prey was caught in a woven dream. At that point, the vampire could either release the human or keep the human enthralled in his grasp.
Competing magic could also pull someone from a woven dream—though magic could not prevent such a dream. However, from what Eric knew―which was admittedly not everything—pulling a human from a woven dream was a very tricky operation. But it was all he could think of.
Quickly, the Viking pulled out his phone and dialed Octavia’s number. He knew that Sookie’s ears would not be able to pick up his conversation. In fact, he could have yelled at the top of his dead lungs, and she wouldn’t have been able to hear him, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. She was imprisoned in her dream and chanting a single phrase again and again. “I’m coming, Bill. I’m coming, Bill. I’m coming, Bill.”
Eric was thankful when Octavia answered on the second ring.
“I am listening,” she answered. Part Creole and part Jamaican, as well as part demon, Octavia had an accent all her own.
“It is Eric,” he said.
“I know who dis is,” she cackled.
“Is the line secure?” the vampire asked.
“As surely as the sun is still in dee sky, Viking. It tis early—even for you.”
“I know,” Eric said. “But the human I told you of—the one you are to do the severing spell on tomorrow morning—is currently in the midst of a woven dream and is driving me closer and closer by the second to the three-thousand-year-old vampire who wants to kill me!”
Octavia chuckled a little. “You are in a bit of a spot den, vampire. What did your maker once call you? A magnet for trouble?”
Eric ignored her remarks. “When the sun goes down, I intend to secure the human, turn us around, and bring her to you,” he informed. “Can you stop the dream?”
“How far are you from New Orleans?” Octavia asked.
Eric closed his eyes. “When the sun sets, I will be approximately two hours and thirty minutes away by car and fifty minutes away by flight.”
“Too long,” Octavia said. “I could not stop dee dream before it killed her. If you prevent her from continuing in dee direction of her destination, den you will be signing her death warrant yourself, vampire. Dee distress of going against dee flow of dee dream would cause her heart to stop within ten minutes—and dat is if she is strong. Some are killed immediately when dey are stopped from answering the compulsion of such a dream.”
“Fuck!” Eric shouted, his voice echoing in his chamber. In that moment, he felt his dead heart wrenching. He knew that at sundown, he’d still be plenty far away from Shreveport—and from Russell. He could simply pop open the hatchback and fly out, leaving Sookie to her fate. But the thought of that was unacceptable to him. There had to be another way!
“Unacceptable, witch! I need you to stop Sookie’s dream!” he yelled.
“And will yelling at me help dee human?” Octavia asked facetiously. “No I tink not,” she answered her own question.
She sighed and her tone became more compassionate. “You could take the chance that dee vampire sending dee dream would end it. If you altered her course away from her destination after sunset, dee vampire would feel her distress. He could stop dee dream before she was killed. The trauma to the human would be great, but I could mend her—perhaps—though her mind might never be dee same.”
“And if the vampire didn’t stop the dream?” Eric asked, his jaw so tight that he felt it might crack apart.
“As I said, she would die.”
“What if you drove toward our position and we met you?” Eric asked hopefully.
“‘Twould take me till sunset to gather my materials for the spell as it tis,” Octavia said. “‘Twould not be enough time, even then. I am sorry, vampire, but I cannot unweave dis dream for you.”
Eric sighed and mused aloud. “I cannot trust Compton not to kill Sookie. I should have ended him last night!” he added angrily.
“Yes—one such as he who sent dis dream ought to be put down,” Octavia agreed harshly.
“I will have to leave her,” Eric said, almost choking out his words. “If I could be sure that Bill was alone, I would stay and kill him. But I cannot be sure. And, if Russell is with Bill, it will be worse for her if I stay.”
“You could kill her,” Octavia said, “and prevent your great enemy from having her.”
“No,” Eric said in barely a whisper. “That I could not do, nor can I be the cause of her death by preventing her from obeying the dream.” He sighed heavily, the sound raspy to his ears. “At sunset, I will remove myself from my resting place and,” he paused, “let her go.”
“Dee thought of dat saddens you,” Octavia observed.
“She is an asset,” Eric responded, even as he flattened his palm against the top of his enclosure. He feared that his hand—now less than a foot from where she sat—was the closest he’d ever be to Sookie Stackhouse again.
“Of course—just an asset. ‘Tis obvious.” Octavia chuckled.
“Why do you laugh?” Eric asked bitterly.
She ignored his question and asked one of her own. “Your blood is in her—is it not?”
“Yes,” Eric answered.
“A lot of your blood—correct?”
“An older vampire’s blood has powerful magic,” Octavia observed. “You may be able to use it to take the human out of her dream. ‘Twould be dangerous, but it tis her only chance.”
“I haven’t given many humans my blood,” Eric countered. “Thus, I have very little practice with manipulating my blood in a human,” he added, even as his mind flashed to the previous night when he’d been able to move his blood to heal Sookie’s most pressing injuries first.
“Tsk,” Octavia sounded. “You are over a thousand years old, Viking. And Godric was your maker. And Klymene was his. Your blood is powerful enough. You need only make it act as you wish. The question is dis: Would your human feel that the risk was worth taking?”
“She is not mine,” Eric said softly—almost with regret. “She belongs to no one,” he added fervently.
There was a smile in Octavia’s voice. “Is dat what you believe, vampire? Or is dat what dee girl believes?”
“Both,” Eric answered immediately, surprising himself a bit with both his response and its fervor.
“Den she would tell you dat the risk was worth it. She would not want to go to dee one who had woven such a dream. Only a monster would do such a ting.”
Eric nodded, even though he knew that Octavia couldn’t see him. “How do I do it?”
“Carefully,” Octavia chuckled, but then grew serious. “Use your blood to track down dee parts of her that his blood is controlling. What is dee emotion dat is ruling her?” she asked.
“Fear—no terror,” Eric clarified.
“So dee dream weaver truly is a monster,” Octavia said judgmentally.
“I had no idea he would go to these lengths,” Eric said. He gasped.
“What tis it?” Octavia asked.
“Sookie’s arrhythmias are worsening. I fear for her heart,” he said—that fear clear in his tone.
“Den you must fight for dat heart.”
“How?” Eric demanded desperately.
“How do you stop fear, Eric?” Octavia asked.
“You alleviate it—with reason and control,” the vampire responded.
“And comfort,” she added. “Comfort most of all.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “comfort.”
“And you wish to comfort dis girl?” the witch asked. “You must wish it—wish it more dan anyt’ing—or dee magic in your blood will not work.”
“I wish it,” he said quietly.
“Den you may yet be able to help her, but her fear must be comforted away a little at a time. Do not try to go too fast, or dee human will go into shock. Use your blood as a slow salve to dee fire of her pain. Sneak up on dee other vampire’s blood. Surround dee woven dream. But smother it slowly so dat it does not think to defend itself until it tis too late.”
“How will I know if it is working,” he asked.
“Her fear will dissipate slowly until dee dream is almost slain. In the end, dee remnants of dee dream will become aware of dee attack, and in its desperation, dee other vampire’s blood will try to re-stoke dee fires of her fear. In dat moment, use everything dat is in you—all of dee care dat you have for dis girl—to douse dee flames.”
“What if I do not succeed before the sun sets?” Eric asked nervously.
“Begin now. If you have not pulled her from dee dream by sunset, dee other vampire will be able to fight back. And—if you do not stop your actions den, dee girl will die. She will be torn apart.” With those words, the line went dead.
Eric wasted no time; he immediately activated his blood in Sookie’s body to seek out everything that Bill’s dream was controlling. As Octavia advised, he kept his blood from engaging with Bill’s at first. He simply surrounded the other vampire’s blood as it worked to keep up its influence on Sookie’s hormones and nerves.
Bill’s blood was almost robotic in its movements, stimulating Sookie’s fears over and over again without reprieve or pause—without mercy. Eric had never imagined a vampire’s blood could be so single-minded about causing the kind of damage and pain that Bill’s currently was.
Eric might have been impressed by the younger vampire’s cruelty if Bill had been torturing his worst enemy. However, Bill supposedly loved Sookie, and the Viking couldn’t fathom how a vampire—or any other type of being—could do such a thing to someone he or she cared for.
Once Eric had all of Bill’s malevolent blood surrounded, he allowed a fraction of his own blood to slowly begin to calm Sookie’s frayed nerves. To provoke fear in a human was relatively easy in a metabolic sense. However, alleviating fear was more difficult.
Eric listened carefully to Sookie’s heart rate—which was still dangerously rapid and erratic. He prayed to Freya that it would calm—just a little—to show him that his efforts were working.
From what Eric could tell, Sookie was experiencing a repeating cycle of fear, as if she were a nightmare-riddled sleepwalker who could not be woken up. Thankfully, Sookie was young and strong, and her fairy DNA would help her body to survive—or, at least, he hoped that it would.
“Stay with me, Sookie,” Eric pled. “Just a little longer. I’m coming. You are not alone in there.”
The Viking shook his head angrily, wishing desperately that he had told Sookie to stay awake, lest Bill try to influence her with a dream. However, he’d never even fathomed the possibility that Bill could weave dreams. Any vampire with a tie could send a dream, but so few were dream-weavers. Eric had had no doubts at all that his own blood could cancel out any dreams that Bill did manage to send. The Viking shook his head again. Because of his shortsightedness and his arrogance, he had underestimated Bill Compton. And—worse—he had failed Sookie.
Eric imagined torturing Bill slowly as he gave a little more of his blood permission to soothe Sookie’s frazzled emotions by asking her body to produce serotonin. The Viking was not yet sure if what he was doing was having any effect, but he was determined to keep going—and to be patient, as Octavia had cautioned.
“Comfort,” he said aloud.
Even as Eric activated a bit more of his blood, he winced as he continued to feel the severity of Sookie’s emotions. He heard her voice crack and then break as she continued her chanting above him.
Now that Eric was actively trying to counteract the dream, he sensed its effects—the fear, the terror—even more acutely than before. Just feeling it in Sookie was almost too much for him. He couldn’t imagine what Sookie was experiencing. He steeled himself, knowing that he could not allow himself to succumb to his own fear, anger, or despair—not if he was to help Sookie.
He shook his head. He still couldn’t believe that Compton was capable of doing what he’d done. Even if Bill had the ability to weave dreams, the Viking couldn’t fathom why he’d actually done it—to Sookie!
“How could you?” Eric asked aloud, though the vampire he wanted to be asking was nowhere near him. “How could you do this to her?” he asked again, knowing that even if Bill was there, he could give no answer that would satisfy him.
Eric was heartened as he suddenly felt Sookie calming a little. He listened to her heart; it was still beating rapidly—too rapidly—but the beat was less erratic. He activated a little more of his blood.
“Not too fast,” he reminded himself. The Viking closed his eyes. He felt his blood moving in to slowly soothe every single part of Sookie that Bill’s dream had taken hold of. He did not, however, try to stifle Bill’s blood. Instead he worked to quieten the chemical reactions of Sookie’s body—to counteract Bill’s magic rather than to destroy it.
Eric smiled a little. Many months before, he had deduced that Sookie was fond of hugs, for he had smelled the scents of many beings clinging to her during their various encounters. Hugging was not something vampires indulged in very often. To do it required an opening of oneself. But it was the act of comfort that Eric imagined as he lay less than a foot away from her. He was so close to her, but he could not hug her body to his. So, instead, he imagined his blood holding her in his stead.
Every piece of himself inside of Sookie found a traumatized piece of her. Trying to take away all of her suffering and pain, every drop of his blood held onto a cell of hers. There was so much fear in her that Eric shook because of it. But he let himself embrace the reaction her fear was causing in him. He let it move his body—move to him. However, instead of succumbing to the fear, he forced himself to face all of the things that had brought him the most terror throughout his thousand years.
The night monster and the wolf-men who had murdered his parents and his baby sister.
His maker meeting the sun.
The threat that he would lose Pam.
The thought of the woman driving him toward Shreveport being gone from his life.
Being trapped in a box when he wanted to be holding Sookie Stackhouse.
Failing to protect her.
Not living up to his human father’s expectations for him.
Being completely alone in the world.
Eric let his own fears grip his dead heart even as he smelled the tears streaming down Sookie’s cheeks. He hated her tears, even as he hated his own fears. He imagined himself wiping away her tears and holding her close—rocking her against his body as his mother had rocked him when he was a young child awakened by nightmares.
Eric sighed. He had truly believed that his mother was magic—a handmaiden to the goddess Freya. In his mother’s embrace and listening to her comforting voice singing to him, every single one of Eric’s fears from his nightmares had been obliterated. The Viking imagined his blood singing to Sookie, robbing her nightmares of their power. And then he noticed that he really was singing—a long-forgotten lullaby.
He closed his eyes and could feel Bill’s dream steadily losing its power as his own blood continued to offer Sookie comfort from her fear. Eric was poised, waiting for the moment Octavia had told him about—waiting to drown Sookie in his care for her. But so far, Bill’s blood did not seem to notice his interference.
In that moment, Eric’s ears picked up the unmistakable siren of a police cruiser, followed quickly by Sookie’s desperate cursing before he felt the car slow down and then pull over to the side of the road. Eric sighed. He was happy that they’d stopped, but it was still ten minutes before sunset. And the policeman might make even more trouble for them by interfering with the process that was ongoing in Sookie’s body.
Still, the vampire was buoyed. He knew that Sookie would have never pulled over during the height of her trance; in fact, her pulling over meant that she had regained some control.
Eric used his blood to stimulate a little more serotonin in her. Police officer or not, they could afford no delay in getting rid of the dream Bill had woven. The younger vampire would be awake in less than nine minutes.
Eric moved his blood to fully encase Sookie’s adrenal glands. Then he moved other parts of himself to enclose Sookie’s thyroid glands, which Bill had been affecting almost to the point of causing Sookie to hyperventilate only a half hour before. Eric prayed to Freya that his blood would communicate to Sookie that she was safe now—or, at least, as safe as he could make her on the open highway less than two hundred miles from Shreveport.
Eric heard Sookie gasp in pain. And then suddenly Bill’s blood was fighting back. Eric’s eyes were already tightly closed in concentration, but he felt his whole body contract and twist as he empowered his blood to wrap itself protectively around all of the parts of Sookie that Bill had attacked. And then—in a flash—Eric turned his blood around to attack Bill’s. Like a tidal wave of water dashing over a flame, Eric’s blood collided with Bill’s. Having never experienced such a battle before, Eric tensed even more. A sword—he had used in war. His fangs—he had used. His bare hands—he had used. Now he had only his blood cells—and his will.
And then—almost as soon as it had started—the battle was won. Bill’s influence was gone and the younger vampire’s blood retreated powerlessly. The woven dream was no more.
Eric uncoiled his body slowly, even as he heard Sookie softly crying in the driver’s seat. He could feel her confusion and her shame. He could feel her utter exhaustion, but at least her vital signs were returning to normal. He could feel her sorrow. He could even feel a little anger coming from her—and that feeling, he relished. But he did not feel her fear. He sighed with relief. Sookie had passed a test that no human should have had to pass.
And she was still whole.
He sent some of his blood to Sookie’s now-scarred aorta. It had been literally pounded during her dream. Thankfully, his blood inside of her still had some ability to heal. He tasked it to smooth the walls of Sookie’s aorta and then ordered it to track through her blood vessels, looking for other damage.
Eric’s work was interrupted by the gruff voice of a highway patrolman. “License and registration, please.”
“Um,” Sookie stammered as she noisily opened the glove compartment. Eric knew that it was empty.
“License and registration, please!” the patrolman repeated, louder this time.
“Sorry,” Sookie said. “It must be in my bag.” Eric heard her unzip and then fumble around in the duffle bag on top of the passenger’s seat.
“Where’re you goin’ so fast this evenin’?” the officer asked, his tone now suspicious.
“Uh―my boyfriend’s sick,” Sookie responded, even as her voice quivered from fatigue and nervousness. “This is his car actually, and I’m going to Shreveport to be with him.” She paused. “I—uh—I was upset, and I must have forgotten my purse at home. I think my license is in there, and since this is my boyfriend’s car, I’m not sure where the registration is.”
“Step out of the car, Miss,” the officer ordered sharply.
Sookie continued to rifle through the bag.
“I said,” the man growled loudly, “step out of the car! And take your hands from your bag. Slowly. Right. Now!”
Eric heard the tell-tale sound of the policeman unsnapping his revolver from his holster and then cocking his gun. And then he heard Sookie’s sharp intake of breath.
Sookie’s fear was back. Thankfully—this time—it wasn’t from Bill. And—even better—it was joined by determination and the feeling that Eric felt from Sookie whenever she was trying to come up with a plan.
“That’s it, my little trouble magnet,” Eric said with a smirk. “I will be with you soon.” He chuckled. “Just don’t get shot before then.”